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Pikes Peak Ascent aka “It seemed like a good idea at the time” Part One

Little did I know...

Little did I know…

There’s a saying – “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations,” and the Pikes Peak Ascent could certainly be what the author of that quote was referring to, because it was the most difficult race I’ve ever done in my life. Actually, it was physically just about the most difficult thing I’d ever attempted. Hell, labor with my children was the only thing more difficult.

The whole thing seemed like a good idea at the time. I had always wanted to do the Pikes Peak Marathon, but since I didn’t qualify for the marathon but I DID qualify for the Ascent race in wave 2, I registered. Just like that. No debate, no real thought about how I would train for the thing – I just did it.

So fast forward to August, which saw very little training for the event. Sure, I did a couple of hill repeats and set the treadmill incline to 15% for about 5 minutes on one of my runs, but I did no actual hill training and no trail running. Stupid. Really stupid. But hey, what’s a run up a mountain if you aren’t going to do it flying blind, right? (insert sarcasm)

Preparation shmeparation.

Pikes Peak Ascent Start

Pikes Peak Ascent Start aka My Own Death March

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell, the whole thing was difficult from the get-go, starting with the port-o-potty issue. I’ve been running for a while and I’ve seen some nasty ones, but this particular one was the worst I had ever seen. Never mind the fact that I always pick the wrong line wherever it is I happen to be, I thought for sure this one lone stall had the shorter line because it was completely on the other side of the racing area. No. No and double no. It was short because it had seemingly sprouted up from the bowels of Hell itself. Not only was it filled to the brim completely, but there was a pile of wet feces on the seat. ON THE DAMNED SEAT!

I walked out, stating loudly “I don’t have to pee that badly.”

I was lying. By the time I did get to the start, I realized that yes indeed, I DID really have to pee, and my bladder hurt so badly that my stomach was starting to cramp. Uh oh.

I remembered from walking around Manitou Springs (the race city) that they had a public restroom about a quarter of a mile down the course, so when I got to that point I ducked out of the race to hit the restroom. Of course doing this put me behind since I had to go way off course, and by the time I rejoined the race again I was dead last. Awesome.

Manitou Springs.

The course view from last place.

So I picked up the pace a bit (a mistake in hindsight) and rejoined the masses in mile 2. I passed one, two, 10, 20 people and was starting to gain ground, but the course was starting to get steeper and I was beginning to get worried. Then BOOM. It was then I realized I really shouldn’t have rushed the pace to catch up, since there was a nice, big logjam where the actual Pikes Peak trail began and we were at a complete stop.

The break was a welcome respite since I was completely out of breath by this point. Finally settling down and into a groove, I easily kept up with everyone around me, mainly because we were moving at the speed of a glacier. Finally – a pace I could hold!

Pikes Peak Ascent

Just keeping up with the crowd

Chatting with the other runners around me took my mind off of the course difficulty for a while, and I was having a blast at this point in the race. 3 miles in and I was feeling pretty good. Someone else on the course had music playing loudly enough for us to hear, and the guy in front of me and I were both thankful for the tunes until some old biddy told the guy to turn off the music. I wanted to heave her off the side of the mountain after she complained, but I figured I should be on my best behavior. After all, I was in public and chucking people from mountains is probably frowned upon in races.

Up, up, up we trudged, and the crowd started to thin out a bit. I stayed with the guy in front of me, as we were chatting about the stick-in-the-mud lady who made the music die. Now, the oxygen deprivation was probably starting to get to me a bit at this point, as the elevation was now over 7,500 feet, so I was a little slap happy and feeling a bit buzzed. We both agreed that we would play music next year, and everyone could just deal with Milli Vanilli and a variety of lounge singers. “Volare” came to mind, and we further agreed that “What’s New, Pussycat?” would be played on a constant loop. You’re welcome, Pikes Peak Runners, you’re welcome…

 

Part 2 of this story will be posted on Friday, September 5. Stay tuned…

 

 

 

trademarks

The Circle Game

All three kids-Doing what they did best.

All three kids-Doing what they did best. 2004.

In a complete nod to Joni Mitchell, this song is now stuck in my mind. It plays over and over, in a constant loop, like what a teenager does to his or her poor parents until the parent pounds on the door, or the wall, or the ceiling to make it stop. But I can’t make it stop – it’s there.

“And the seasons, they go round and round…”

The song first appeared in my head with my arm mid-reach into the dryer, as I was taking out my son’s last load of clothes. Last load. The last. I was nostalgic and teary-eyed over socks. But that song – that song brought back countless other memories of other loads of laundry. School uniforms, football uniforms, baseball uniforms, more socks, grimy little boy clothes with grass stains, and earlier … elastic waist pants and onesies and training pants.

“Yesterday a child came out to wonder, caught a dragonfly inside a jar…”

Mid laundry load, I’m now transported back to a specific moment in time, which is why the song came into my head. 10 years ago almost exactly. I’m holding my youngest, Courtney, in my arms and she’s a beautiful, colicky mess. We’re swaying to the song as my son, Chris, does his schoolwork at the kitchen table. It’s the middle of the afternoon, and we’re rocking and swaying and singing, her baby eyes looking at me so intently. She’s studying me as I sing, and I realize as I’m singing that she’s not ever going to be content to play things like “house” with me. We’re going to have to play “lounge act” instead. (I was right, by the way)

The lyrics came at me in the form of a cocktail I drank down as I sang to this baby girl. A mixture of bitter and sweet, the song was life itself. That boy – that boy of 8 years, sitting at that table, doing his work, with a jar full of lightning bugs. That boy was who I was singing about, who Joni was singing about. I knew…

At that moment, I started to cry…

Courtney sleeps on Chris - one of her preferred places to sleep.

Courtney sleeps on Chris – one of her preferred places to sleep. 2004

“Sixteen springs, and sixteen summers gone now…”

I cried right then because I knew it was coming and there was no way to stop it. The boy with the lightning bugs was going to grow up. Oh, he was a boy at that moment, but I knew. I knew just as the baby in my arms wouldn’t be a baby much longer, he wouldn’t be a little boy forever, either. He would learn to drive (an excellent driver), and time would start slipping away faster…

At that moment I absolutely wanted to “slow the circle down”, to “drag my feet”, as the song says. In the moment, at that time, it was exactly what I was doing.

Because the circle won’t slow down, I’m back in the basement doing laundry and Chris is moving away for college. Tomorrow night, there will be no late night snacks characteristic of teenage boys. No “Mom, have you seen my…,” and no constant stream of other teenage boys in and out of the house. Tomorrow night if I open his bedroom door, I won’t see his feet dangling from the end of the bed.

And as I write this, he’s gone. While I rejoice in who he is now, I can’t help but think about that little boy. The boy with the lightning bugs, the boy whose dreams have “lost some grandeur coming true,” as he’s traded the lofty boy dreams for a realistic dream of working for the National Weather Service (he’s majoring in atmospheric science). That boy who will, at least in my mind, always have a jar of lightning bugs with him.

graduation

Graduation 2014, with his sisters. L to R Courtney, Chris, and April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because
“And the seasons, they go round and round
and the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t go back, we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round in The Circle Game.”

Song and lyrics credit to Joni Mitchell.

 

Racing Brain Dump aka Random Thoughts During the Capital City Half Marathon

I’ve always thought a random stream of consciousness post about what I was thinking during a race would be much more interesting than a race re-cap.

The thing about stream of consciousness is that not all thoughts that go through one’s head are nice. It depends on the person, but I’m guessing most people have a mix of friendly and not so friendly thoughts. I’m human that way.

So, here are some random thoughts that went through my head aka kept me entertained along the 13.1 mile course.

1) The tall blond wearing pink in front of me has the most beautiful legs I have ever seen.
2) Why is she even in my corral? She looks like she’s so much faster…
3) I feel like shit. I’m going to suck today.
4) I’m going to be lucky to hit 2:30 today…this sucks. I was hoping to do another PR.
5) I wonder what it’s like to be fast..I wonder if I’ll even ever get to the point where I’m in the “fast” corral…
6) Yep, here we go. Okay, mister announcer…we can’t all be “The best looking corral.” You’ve said that now to every corral so far…give it a rest.
7) Okay…this sucks…I’m so stiff…
8) Aww…how awesome is that!? That girl is such a cutie! I love to see kids in races.
9) Why in the hell are you walking already? If you’re going to start the race with walking, at least start in the back of the corral! Or better yet, in the last corral. Seriously.
10) Speaking of walking, do we really need to walk 4 abreast?
11) That girl in front of me should not be in racing flats. She’s asking for an injury. That right foot…she’s running on a collapsed arch…
12) What is in that girl’s skirt? How can she run like that? It looks like a giant jewelry box bouncing up and down on her butt…that bouncing would bug me to no end…
13) Must keep up with box butt girl…
14) WIND! Holy shit that’s some wind. Not cool, wind.
15) Okay, looking for a tall, big dude for some drafting action…where are you, large runner guy? There you are…don’t mind me running right behind you…
16) Oh wow, there’s Tall Blond in Pink. She’s only 10 feet in front of me. Why is that?
17) Oh hells bells, I suck. My Garmin is all screwed up. I can’t believe I was idiot enough to stop it during the water stop-and forget to restart it. Now I have NO FRIGGIN CLUE what my real overall pace is.
18) Seriously, wind? SERIOUSLY? Oh goodie-rain, too?
19) I now have an official opinion on patterned running tights. They make everyone’s ass look bigger than it is. Note to self- never buy patterned running tights. My ass doesn’t need any help looking bigger, and it’s probably my best feature. Cute in the store, not cute on any runner I have seen. These are cute women, whose butt and thighs look bigger because of those pants. Nope. No way. No how. Never.
20) Oh, another DJ…playing the same song the last DJ was playing…
21) Why do all the DJs have to play the same 3 songs?
22) Oh shit oh shit OH SHIT my knee/leg. What the hell? What do I do, what do I do, what do I do…okay…stop and walk…okay no I’m not walking this. Screw it….okay I’ll stretch it. Stretch it…count to 60…and go. Losing a minute from my overall time here…
23) DAMMIT! No better. It’s no better and it feels like it’s going to give out. Ok, I’ll make a deal-with whom or what I don’t know, but okay-if the pain isn’t gone or manageable in a mile I will walk.
24) Girl, did you not run in those shorts before you decided to wear them today? I’ve watched you pick them out of your ass now every 10 seconds for the last 3 miles.
25) This is not bad…okay…my pace is decent…I might not suck as much as I thought I would, but I still have no clue what my overall time is. But considering I have all these issues, and it’s windy as hell, I might not be doing as badly as I thought I was doing.
26) Okay…I lied! I lied-I feel like death right now. Only about a mile or so to go, but I feel like hell. I can’t do this…I have to walk…oh wait…no…HEY!!!! My running coach/friend/main support person! You’re finished and THERE YOU ARE! YES! RUN WITH ME, Paul!
27) Oh thank God.
28) This still sucks…can’t do it…it hurts…
29) Okay, finish line up this hill, this big hill- and around the corner. I’m almost there. I can do this…I’m gonna speed up now. Power up this hill…head down, don’t think-don’t feel-just go.
30) There’s the finish! Get through it! Don’t alter course, keep a straight line, just go. GO, GO, GO! DONE! FINISHED! Going to die now.

So, those were some of the many thoughts going through my head. I would love to hear what some of the thoughts from your last race were. What goes thorough your head as you’re racing?

 

 

 

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Capital City Half Marathon: More blisters and another PR

I generally hate race re-cap posts, because it’s rare to find one that’s not a complete snooze. But if you like this sort of thing, I at least tried to make it somewhat interesting.

Me after the Cap City Half Marathon

One of the worst selfies in the world. I need lessons. Me after the Cap City half.

Yesterday I ran the Capital City Half Marathon. A great, well-run race, and it always seems like the entire city is there, which does admittedly make for a crowded race. But whatever, I was just there to run my own race.

I started the race okay, but stiff. I’ve been having some problems with blisters on my left big toe on the inside, and the toe next to it as well. Let me say that this is both annoying and confusing, as I’ve never had an issue with blisters before in my life. Why my body decided to make this a “thing” is beyond me. I don’t understand why. These blisters never callus, never heal, and aren’t on any part of my toes that a shoe touches. It also doesn’t matter which shoes I wear. These blisters decided to make an appearance at mile 3. Mile friggin 3.

I began to talk to the blisters at this point. Crazy, yes. Welcome to my brain. I gave them a lecture about showing up so early in a race, and told them in no uncertain terms that I’d only let them stay if they agreed to keep the pain to a dull annoyance. Of course, they laughed and laughed (in my head) and decided to kick the pain up to “sharp and steady.” So there was that.

Just to show those damned blisters, I picked up the pace. I figured since they were along for the ride, I’d make that ride as short as possible.

Which worked until exactly mile 10, where my IT band issue decided to join the party. I think it was in cahoots with the blisters, since they were both on the left side of my body. Oh, and the knee cysts sang backup in this pain chorus. I had to stop and stretch my leg. It sucked and I was losing time, but it felt like my leg was going to give out, so I had to stop and do this. I pulled my degrading carcass to the side of the road where I stretched and counted to 60.

Back at it. Ran a few steps, then walked a few. Then, I picked up the pace, resuming the earlier chat I was having with my body.

“Okay, left side. You can f**k yourself. Screw you. I’m running this thing, and until you actually give out completely, I’m not stopping. You can hurt all you want. Go ahead. But I’m NOT STOPPING!”

Also, it was windy, and there were hills. My personal favorite was running up a damned bridge AND into the wind, where I I said out loud “Oh, HELL NO.” But I sped up. The pain was intense, but I wanted it to be gone, and I wanted to be finished.

So I ended up running my fastest “official” half marathon. I say official because I’ve run the same distance faster on training runs. It was a few years ago, but still…

So I did it, and got this big-ass medal for my efforts.

Cap City Half Marathon medal

I think the race directors and chiropractors are in on this together. I got neck spasms just having this around my neck for the walk to the car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for my next race rant post, where I just sort of brain dump random thoughts I had during this race.  I might piss off quite a few people. It should be good.

 

 

 

 

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I Suck at Running…and other little white lies

I’ve been posting recent runs and their corresponding times on Facebook lately, and I’ve noticed I’m getting faster. And running longer. A few of my wonderful followers, who are beginning to seem more and more like friends, have even suggested I change the name of the page. Haha!

It is so very flattering, really. But the thing is, I will probably always think I suck at running, even if it’s just a little bit of suck. Why?

Because I am a normal runner, that’s why. I’m just a regular, average, run-of-the-mill runner. I am not elite. I am not sub-elite. I am not winning age group awards. Will I win an age group award someday? Maybe, maybe not. But I am a runner. The runner I am today is not the runner I was yesterday, and who knows what I can accomplish tomorrow? Or next year, or in five years, or…you get my point.

But what I do know is this: I have no genetic blessings when it comes to running. I was not born with speed. I work, and work, and work, and I am still not “fast.”

I say I suck because I’m just someone who runs, and I write for every runner out there who will probably never qualify for the Boston Marathon. I write for every runner out there who will most likely never see a six or seven minute mile, regardless of training. I write for every runner out there who will never be taken seriously because they aren’t “fast.”

I still say I suck because even though I’m improving, and I do take my training seriously, it’s a reminder to myself that running is fun. It isn’t my career, and I do this because I can. I’m not trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials (and it wouldn’t matter how hard I trained-I will never qualify), but I do want to do my best. I run for myself. I run to live, and sometimes live to run, but I will never run for a living.

 

trademarks

It’s Not About the Buckle- My Reasons for Wanting to Run an Ultramarathon

Okay, maybe it is just a little bit about the buckle, but in all honestly- it’s that and so much more.

Since I’ve known what an ultra run was, I’ve wanted to do one. Boom-just like that. There has been only one other thing that really gripped me that way-that longing, that yearning to achieve-and that was flying. I didn’t stop to ask why I wanted to fly, but the sky was there, other planes were there, and I knew at age 4 that if someone was indeed flying those planes over my house, I could fly one, too.

So I did.

Flying a plane.

Me, just flying a plane…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small digression aside, I think it’s my nature to run, to wander, to fly. There’s something in the wandering that has always appealed to me. As a child I was always dreaming of escape, lying in the backyard grass watching planes overhead and knowing I would someday take off in one myself, as the pilot.

I constantly drove my mother insane in early elementary school when I decided (frequently) to take the long, meandering way home from an already long school day. Sometimes I would add an extra hour to my walk home, just because I could. I loved the adventure, and the solitude, and studying the way the streets curved. I loved looking at the houses. Never content with the same way home day after day, the new routes were exciting to me. Of course, my mother didn’t feel the same way. Fraught with worry, I would often see her frazzled and harried face speed walking down the street, ready to grab me and drag me home.

Other times I would stand at the end of our driveway and stare at the Superstition Mountains to the east, and wonder how long it would take me to walk there. Those mountains beckoned, all the time. I was always aware of their presence, and I always wanted to get there. Any and all efforts were immediately thwarted by my mother, who, having no sense of adventure, forbid her 8 year-old daughter from setting out to walk to mountains that were at most 50 miles away from the house. Spoilsport.

Superstition Mountains

Still not sure why my mom wouldn’t let me walk from my house to go climb these mountains…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when I first heard about this beast called an ultra-marathon, I was immediately smitten. I was running with a friend who had actually completed a few, and did pretty well. Now, unlike me, she had actual running talent. But when I asked her about running an ultra, I heard the glorious words “You don’t HAVE to be fast for an ultra. If you can run a marathon, you can run an ultra. It’s all mental after that, and really, it’s pretty much all pain management after 50 miles.”

I was sold.

Really, when I stop to think about why I want to do an ultra, I’m fairly certain there is no one answer. Actually, there is one BIG answer; an amalgam of smaller answers and reasons all rolled into one. Because it’s there. Because people do them, and I can, too. But let’s break it down.

I want to run, I love to run, and I have always been about “far.” I don’t think I have the genetic capability to go fast, but I can go far. I love the mental aspect of an ultra, how it requires patience, and self-discipline, and more patience.

I want to run it because I’m honestly a little afraid. I’m afraid of the pain, and afraid of being alone with my thoughts. But that’s also precisely why I’m also drawn to doing just that. I want to have the opportunity to push myself mentally farther than I have ever gone in my life. To work through those demons in the recesses of my psyche, telling me I can’t. I want to annihilate that fear of the dark, both mental and physical. Because to face that fear, and get over it, I have to run right through it.

I want to run it because it’s difficult. I will be a mess both physically and mentally, and that’s okay. I have to get there. Again, I have to run through it.

I want to run it because it’s finally okay for me to wander. That longing I had as a child is still there. I want to wander, to run, and to fly. But this time it’s different. I feel secure enough to let the people close to me see me at my weakest. I feel content that although I’m wandering, I know exactly where I’m going, and where I’m supposed to be. I know what makes me happy, and instead of wanting to fly away, I want to fly and wander with those who love and support me. I want to enjoy the journey with those who understand. I think most ultra runners understand.

Because running an ultra, well, running in general, is kind of like driving. Some prefer to get from point A to point B on the interstate, making good time, not caring about much else. Some like to take the back roads. But like driving on old Route 66, my running isn’t always about making good time. My running isn’t interstate, it’s winding mountain roads: Sometimes harrowing, mostly meandering, and always stopping to appreciate the view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Chance for Boston Half Marathon Re-Cap

 

I don’t tend to do race re-cap blog entries, because I don’t want to bore anyone, but I figured “what the hell” this time. So here goes.

I knew I was ready, but I wasn’t enthusiastic. I woke up in plenty of time, and I wasn’t tired, but I wasn’t full of “pep,” either. I had never run the Last Chance for Boston race before, and the course is a mile loop, so I was a little apprehensive. I wasn’t sure how I would do running 13 consecutive mile loops in the middle of an architecturally boring area consisting of nothing but office buildings and chain hotels, but I was definitely willing to give it a shot.

I got to the race early, because I’m completely anal-retentive about getting to races on time, and said good morning to some of my other running friends. One of the things I love about running races is that I usually see other running friends there-whether they’re volunteering or running it themselves. I chatted with my friend Richard for a while, texted Pacer Paul, my running coach (who was running late), saw another friend and sometimes coach (Chris) already running the marathon distance, and talked to Sarah, another running friend who would also be running the half.

I felt settled in after seeing everyone, and fell into line with the rest of the runners, including another running friend Shannon, who has a really cool blog as well. Check it out here.

It was cold, as February in Ohio tends to be, but it wasn’t brutal. The first two miles were a little rough, and I was a tiny bit worried. Okay, more than a little worried. My problem is a pain on the top of my foot/ankle that tends to flare up occasionally. Not all the time, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason, but it just kind of appears out of nowhere. It appeared yesterday morning. It slowed me down.

Thankfully it only lasted about 2 miles, and seemed to disappear as randomly as it appeared, and I picked up the pace.

I knew I would PR, since my training run times were consistently better than my last half marathon time. So I gave it a little go.

The result? A half PR of about 16 minutes. 16 freaking minutes.

Am I happy about that? Hell yes. Can I do better? Yes. And I will-with more training. I used to run that distance regularly in under 2 hours on training runs, and I will get there again. I know I will.

So, this race has made me think-taught me a few things.

  1. Consistent training is my friend.
  2. I see a sub 2:00 half marathon in my future.
  3. It is important to me to surround myself with other runners. More on this later I think. Blog post forming in my head…

Also, surprisingly, I found the loops to be meditative. I was able to pull into myself and just run. I didn’t really notice spectators, other than my friends Richard and Lisa at the finish every time I did a loop, and Pacer Paul lapped me a few times, which was both encouraging and humbling. I saw Sarah lap me once, and seeing her for my last two loops gave me even more strength and encouragement.

I honestly thought the loops would bore me, but the opposite was true. I could just focus on my running, my breathing, my pace. Great training for some loop ultras I have planned later in the year.

Also, I need to take more pictures. Pictures of me, pictures of me with running friends, just pictures. I want to remember.

 

 

 

 

 

language
conditions

Limits: Get Rid of Them

As the year comes to a close, I find I’m thinking about limits more and more. Limits in general. With my career (as much of a joke as it is right now), with my running, and with my life.

What am I finding? I’m finding that most of my limits are self-imposed.

Yes, people shit on us, knock us down, try to ruin our chances at something. But in the end, we are responsible for our own thoughts…our own actions. Sorry for the language, but I’m very passionate about this. And I’m still learning.

Why do some people accomplish so much, while others just seem to languish in sameness, stuck in an endless loop of the same struggles, never really escaping the endless cycle of mental and physical stagnation?

Because it’s easy to stay where you are, to just accept everything as is, never reaching, never growing. We tell ourselves those big accomplishments are for other people. People smarter than us. People with more energy.

So, if we are satisfied with the same days running into other days running into the next day, then we can probably keep doing what we’re doing. We can keep living our “comfortable” life, never questioning or trying or wearing ourselves out trying to improve. But me? I want more.

Those people who accomplish big things? Sure, they get tired, but they persevere. They keep going even when they get tired, because what they want is more important than any fleeting feeling of being tired.

Do they fail? Sure, but they pick it all back up and keep going. They know life isn’t fair, but they keep going anyway. Why? Because they want it badly enough. They crush those limits-they break through them. They annihilate them, because most are self imposed, anyway.

So, I’m going to ask-what are your limits? Or, rather, what do you think are your limits? Are they running or fitness related? For more help and inspiration with that, check out http://www.sothisisfitness.com/2013/12/lose-your-limits-challenge-2014.html.

Are your limits career related? Personal relationships? Identify them. Really face them. Give them a hard look. Then, make a plan.

2014 is the year we get rid of those limits, right? Join me if you want. After all, it’s easier when you have a hand to hold.

Attitude and NO LIMITS. I want what she's having.

Attitude and NO LIMITS. I want what she’s having.

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Why is Christmas Like Long Distance Running?

On Christmas Day I like to run. I mean, I REALLY like to run. I think about how the year is wrapping up and how far I’ve come with my running (or if I’ve been injured-how much more I suck). I also really love to look at all the lights and Christmas decor before everyone rips it all down. Which led me down the track to the distance running-Christmas thought train. (See what I did there?)

Sorry about that…

Anyway, as I was running I saw someone had already discarded their Christmas tree. Now, this run took place mid afternoon today-Christmas Day (Disclaimer- it’s possible this particular tree was a fire hazard, which actually proves my point further so never mind). Someone was done with Christmas ON Christmas. So I thought, really? REALLY? Now, to each his own here, and I don’t claim one way is better than the other, but since this is my blog, I’m giving my own opinion. But be warned- I am pretty opinionated in this post. This is a combination running post/Christmas rant. If you are one of those people who puts their Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving gets here, and tears everything down Christmas Day, you should stop reading now.

So, how is Christmas like long distance running?

1) Some people start before conditions are ideal. It’s really not a good idea to jump on the distance running bandwagon until you’re ready. Just because it seems like everyone’s running, say, a half marathon, doesn’t mean it’s a great idea for everyone. Now, it’s great people want to be healthy, but hear me out. I’m not saying don’t do it, but I am saying it’s better to have a good running base before you embark on the distance running quest. Why? There’s a good chance that if you start running a distance your body isn’t ready to run, you will either a) not make it to the start line b) not make it to the finish line c) make it to both but have a really shitty experience. Why? Injuries, burn-out, etc. That’s why.

Same with Christmas. People are in such a rush to get out the Christmas decorations, to put up the tree, etc, that by the time Christmas actually rolls around they’re so sick of Christmas they can’t wait to tear it all down. Patience people, it will get here. Waiting to celebrate teaches patience.

You can’t rush running progress, and you can’t rush Christmas. Both will be here. Wait until it’s time.

2) Quit too soon and you miss the good stuff. Some people go gangbusters when they start running. They’re consistent, wake up early, and run too many miles way too quickly. They go all out early on, and usually end up giving up or getting hurt. They never get to experience the fun of a race they’ve truly prepared for. 

Same with Christmas, really. Remember being a child, and really enjoying that time between Christmas and New Years? Or better yet, look at it from another point of view. That week between Christmas and New Years Day is a freakin GOLD MINE OF FUN! Or at least, it should be. Think about it. The shopping is finished, the massive frenzy of Christmas itself is over with, and all that’s left to do is sit back, enjoy the decorations, etc. It’s a time to chill out. Enjoy the season, etc. One of my favorite things to do was always drive around and look at Christmas lights. Now people tear them down right after Christmas. Why? People are tired of it. Burned out. I remember when it was rare to see a Christmas tree, or Christmas decorations, before the month of December. No wonder people are tired of Christmas on Christmas- they’ve been celebrating since before Thanksgiving even hit!

With running and Christmas, the real fun comes after the hard work. The hours spent preparing. Don’t pack it in until it’s time to pack it in and put it away. Enjoy the fruits of your effort. Enjoy that time right after Christmas-the stress is gone and you worked hard. Now enjoy it. Enjoy that race now. The real hard part is over.

 

3) It’s not about the swag. I’m not saying medals aren’t nice, but that shouldn’t be the reason you run. Just like presents shouldn’t define Christmas. Both running and Christmas are so much more than the swag-the stuff. Think about your childhood, and try to remember every present you received. Chances are you remember about two of them. I know I can’t recall more than one present, but what I do remember is the experience. The family, the dinner, gazing at the tree and the lights…but not the presents.

When I think about the last race I ran, I remember the training, and how hard it was to prepare, and how much fun I had running with other people, and all the sights during the race. Sure it was nice to get a medal. But I don’t run for the medal. And I don’t celebrate Christmas for the presents.

Fun run for people who can't be patient.

Ready…set…oh screw it.

 

trademarks

A Run with My Dad

So my original plans for today were to start drinking this morning-maybe a beer or two-and move onto the harder stuff by afternoon, finally passing out in a drunken heap by 7 pm. You know, just to deal. That didn’t happen.

Why would I drink myself into oblivion on a random Tuesday? Because it’s the anniversary of the day my dad died. The 30th anniversary. AND I am now the EXACT SAME AGE he was when he died. The thought was all-encompassing, and almost too much for me to deal with, so I figured I would just deal with it by numbing the pain. Thoughts of my own mortality were overwhelming. My dad was a great, accomplished guy by the time he was my age. Me? Well, I’m not quite as successful. When I compare where I am in life, to where he was at this point, I come up short.

Melanie and Bill

Me with my runner dad way back in the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, like I said, I didn’t do that.

What I did was go for a run. My dad was a runner, and it was really the best way to remember him. If I had spent the day in an inebriated state, he would have been beyond disappointed. So I ran. The trail was icy, but I ran 8 miles anyway. Not only did I run, but I got faster with every mile. It felt great.

It’s what he would have wanted me to do today. Well, that, and have a post-run beer. He would have definitely wanted me to have a beer.